WOTUS: What’s Happened Since, with NCBA’s Mary-Thomas Hart

Listen to Mary-Thomas Hart talk about the latest on WOTUS and more.

At the National Association of Farm Broadcasters Washington Watch Event, Farm Director KC Sheperd had the chance to visit with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Chief Counsel of Government Affairs, Mary-Thomas Hart. In this episode of Beef Buzz, Senior Farm, and Ranch Broadcaster Ron Hays is featuring comments from the conversation regarding the latest on WOTUS (Waters of the U.S.)

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled against the Biden Administration’s WOTUS rule, forcing the EPA to make major changes before the rule was approved. Hart follows up on what has happened since.

“Last summer, we got a unanimous 9-0 opinion from the Supreme Court that struck down the underlying basis of the EPA’s last few WOTUS definitions, the significant nexus,” Hart said. “That kind of forced EPA back to the drawing board to make some pretty significant changes to the Biden Administration’s WOTUS definition, and we got that definition last September.”

Hart said the Biden Administration’s rule containing significant nexus, which was shot down by the Supreme Court was replaced with a rule containing “relative permanence,” which means femoral features and isolated ponds and wetlands will not be regulated by the federal government.

“I think this shift really does make sure that EPA’s resources and EPA’s time is being put toward the water sources and water features that need the most protection,” Hart said.

From NCBA’s perspective, Hart said there are a few questions, but for the most part, they are satisfied with that final rule.

“We have some loose ends to tie up, specifically related to, what is the breadth of interstate waters as a category of jurisdictional waters and what features are going to be considered interstate waters,” Hart said. “Also, getting some more clarity on how the EPA is going to treat femoral features or features that only carry water after a rain or snowstorm.”

Hart said the NCBA looks forward to additional guidance from the EPA, Army Corps of Engineers, and the USDA as the new standard is implemented. Going forward, Hart said some additional clarity on how prior converted cropland will be treated would be appreciated as well.

“It feels like after 50 years of fighting over the definition of WOTUS, long before I was born, we can finally see a light at the end of that regulatory tunnel,” Hart said.

Hart also talked about more legislation the NCBA is working on or against. Click the listen bar above to listen to the full conversation!

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR for today’s show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.

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